Qualification Firing of Aster 15 Naval Antimissile Missile

Successful Final Qualification Firing of the Aster 15 Naval Antimissile Missile

PARIS—The ASTER 15 Naval antimissile missile has been successfully fired in the final phase of qualification for the Surface-to-Air Anti-Missile Missile /France (SAAM/FR) naval defence system.

The firing took place on 30 October, according to the schedule announced at this year’s Paris Air Show.

The missile was fired from the French experimental vessel « Ile d’Oléron » at the French Naval Test Center Centre d’Essais de la Méditerranée (CEM) off the port of Toulon and the Ile du Levant.

The Aster 15 Naval missile intercepted with a « hit-to-kill » a subsonic aircraft (flying at Mach 1) attacking at low altitude (100 metres above sea level). The Aster 15 Naval missile impacted directly the target at 10 kilometres from its launch point and 15 seconds after launch.

This success follows two previous successful firings of Aster missiles:

— on 31 May this year, a « hit-to-kill » in an intense electronic counter-measures environment;

— on 29 June this year, a « hit-to-kill »against a sea-skimming missile just a few metres above the surface of the water in an interception scenario at the shortest possible distance (less than 2,500 metres with only 4 seconds before engagement).

Completion of SAAM/FR Qualification Trials

This final firing marks the end of qualification testing for the Aster 15 Naval missile used in the SAAM/FR (Surface-to-Air-Anti-Missile/France) naval defence system. The SAAM/FR system comprises the Sylver vertical launch module, each with eight Aster 15 Naval missiles and a fire control system that uses the French Arabel multifunction radar.

The next stage in the Franco-Italian SAAM programme is the commencement, later this year, of qualification testing for the Italian configuration of the system (SAAM/IT = Superficie-Aria Anti-Missile/Italia), which will take over from the French test series.

The Italian SAAM/IT qualification firings will be made from the Italian experimental ship « Carabiniere, » at the CEM off Toulon.

The SAAM/IT naval defence system combines the components shared with the SAAM/FR system (the Sylver launchers and Aster 15 Naval missiles) with a fire control system based on the Italian Empar multifunction radar.

The ASTER 15 Naval Contracts

Some 200 Aster 15 Naval missiles have already been ordered to equip eleven naval defence systems:

— one system for the aircraft carrier, « Charles de Gaulle »,

— three systems to equip the F 1300S frigates ordered by the Royal Saudi Navy under the Sawari II contract. The « Al Riyadh », « Makkah » and « Al Dammal » are scheduled for delivery between 2002 and 2004;

— one system ordered by Italy for its second aircraft carrier (NUM: Nuova Unita Maggiore), the « Andrea Doria »,

–six systems for the frigates of a foreign navy.

The Aster 15 Naval missile is also one of the two missiles (the Aster 30 Naval is the other) included in the trilateral PAAMS (Principal Anti-Air Missile System) programme launched in August 1999 by France, Italy and the UK. PAAMS systems widen self-defence and protection missions to those of local and area naval air-defence with a capability out to 100 kilometres. PAAMS system qualification is expected between 2004 and 2006.

Three PAAMS systems (including 200 Aster 15 and 30 Naval missiles) were ordered during 2000 to equip a « first-of-class » (FOC) air defence ship in each of the three programme countries: HMS « Daring », the first Type 45 class destroyer for the UK; « Forbin », the first French Horizon class frigate and the first yet unnamed Italian Orizzonte class frigate.

Seven other PAAMS systems are due to be ordered during 2002, five for Type 45 destroyers, one for a French Horizon class frigate and one for an Italian Orizzonte class frigate. The order will include 400 to 500 additional Aster 15 and 30 Naval missiles.